A comparison of the effects between letter-grades and pass-fail grades on the attitudes and achievement of eleventh grade United States history students Public Deposited

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  • This study was designed to determine whether individual students at the eleventh grade level who were graded on a pass-fail basis in United States History would show any difference in academic achievement from those of a similar group marked by the traditional ABCD-F letter-grade method. In addition, the study was to investigate the effect, if any, of the pass-fail marking system on the study habits, study attitudes, and the over-all study orientation of the same students as compared with those being evaluated by the letter-grade system. Specific hypotheses to be examined were: 1. There is no difference between the experimental and control groups in the academic achievement of the United States History students as measured by the Crary American History Test. 2. There is no difference between the experimental and control groups in academic behavior (study habits) of the United States History students as measured by the Survey of Study Habits and Attitudes. 3. There is no difference between the experimental and control groups in the study attitudes of the United States History students as measured by the Survey of Study Habits and Attitudes. 4. There is no difference between the experimental and control groups in over-all study orientation of the United States History students as measured by the Survey of Study Habits and Attitudes. A review of the literature reveals considerable dissatisfaction with the traditional ABCD-F letter-grade marking system widely used in the secondary schools of the United States. The pass-fail concept appears to have merit as a more flexible system, and its use on the secondary level in increasing. The sample consisted of six eleventh grade required United States History classes at Rex Putnam High School, Milwaukie, Oregon. One hundred and two individuals participated in the experimental groups. They received a pass-fail mark on all routine class work as well as grade card reports throughout the academic year. Data were obtained for 96 experimental subjects. One hundred and five individuals participated in the control group. They were exposed to the traditional ABCD-F letter-grade marking system throughout the academic year. Complete data were obtained for 99 control subjects. Statistical treatment was applied to the data for 195 subjects. The Crary American History Test and the Survey of Study Habits and. Attitudes were administered to subjects prior to the beginning of the research and at the conclusion of the project. An analysis of the post-test score gains revealed no differences between the means of the experimental and control groups as tested by t at the .05 level of significance on all four measures; hence, all four hypotheses were supported in that subjects exposed to the pass-fail system showed no difference in academic achievement, study habits, study attitudes, and study orientation from those treated by the traditional ABCD-F letter-grade marking system. Recommendations for further research in secondary marking systems include: 1. The merits and demerits of innovative grading practices as compared with traditional marking systems. 2. Investigation of the achievement and study attitudes of students taking all courses under the pass-fail system compared with students taking all courses under the letter-grade system. 3. Investigation of the pass-fail and letter-grade marking system on attendance patterns. 4. Studies concerning the effect, if any, of the pass-fail grading system on high achievers as compared with students of low ability. 5. Experimentation in grading systems doing away with the use of the designation "F" denoting failure. 6. Development of criteria for the evaluation of student performance using the pass-fail system. 7. Investigation of the relationship between grading practices and cheating. 8. Relationships, if any, between grading practices and drop out patterns. 9. Study of problems relating to college requirements and how these impinge upon wider use of the pass-fail marking system.
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